Audiobooks have revolutionized the literary world, opening up classic books to a whole new generation of listeners. It isn't just as simple as committing a great story to tape and letting the tale do the rest, of course, it isn't. In this new and exciting world, an audiobook is only as good as its narrator. A bad voice can drag a good story down, while a great voice can lift good stories. Luckily for listeners across the world, there is no shortage of fantastic voices in the Audible library, filling classic and contemporary stories with character, charm and glee. These are the very best audiobook narrators going today.

The Alchemist

A long-time legend of screen and stage, it could be argued that Jeremy Irons is best known for his voice. It was Irons who provided the dulcet tones for Scar in Disney's iconic adaptation of The Lion King (1994), and the English actor's laconic yet spiteful performance of the film's antagonist was an undoubted highlight. It shouldn't come as a great surprise to hear that Irons has carved himself a fine career as an audiobook narrator.

His finest performance? That is always up to interpretation, but it is hard to look past his fantastic rendering of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. The combination of story and voice is nigh on perfect, Irons filling every single word with importance as Santiago's quest for mythical treasure unfolds. Coelho's book is an international bestseller, but the Irons-led audiobook might just have it beat.

Jeremy Irons is one of the best audiobook narrators on the planet. His distinctive voice can be heard narrating other famous tales such as Nabokov's Lolita as well as a wide selection of children's fiction, but his work on The Alchemist remains the standout. At just four hours, it is also a fantastically accessible listen.

The Giver of Stars

American actress Julia Whelan may have won her Audie Award (2019's Best Female Narrator) for her work on Tara Westover's Educated, but it could be said that her performance at the reins of The Giver of Stars (Jojo Moyes) trumps that award-winning turn. Alice Wright's coming-of-age experience on Eleanor Roosevelt's travelling library provides the perfect base for Whelan's expressive performance and makes for a truly joyful listening experience.

Born in Oregon, Whelan initially found success in the early '00s in several TV dramas and films, but her transition into life as an audiobook narrator has been revelatory. The Giver of Stars showcases Whelan at her very best, allowing the star to seamlessly transition between different voices with ease, creating an entire universe centred around a woman searching for herself at a critical time in her life.

Julia Whelan is another audiobook narrator who has perfected the art of creating the feeling of a full cast, and The Giver of Stars is an audiobook that shimmers as a result. It is easy to hear why this Audie Award winner has become one of the most sought-after voice actors of the modern era.


There is always something joyful about authors getting to narrate their books. These are the people who know their characters intimately, the very minds who created the twists and turns in the first place. It stands to reason that the best person to read a story should be the very person who wrote it. Of course, not everybody is a gifted orator, so it isn't as simple as it first might seem.

Needless to say, Neil Gaiman is a very talented writer and a quite spectacular orator. Combine the two and you are onto a winner, best exemplified in Gaiman's Neverwhere, undoubtedly one of the greatest science fiction and fantasy audiobooks of all time. This iconic story was the novelization of a somewhat cult BBC television series of the same name, with this Gaiman-narrated audiobook acting as the perfect marriage of the two versions.

Speaking of perfect marriages, Gaiman is, quite simply, one of the best audiobook narrators going. The English author positively drips with confidence throughout, knowing when to rein it in and when to let fly, narrating the trials and tribulations of Richard Mayhew with all the confidence of the creator of the character.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy the most iconic science fiction story ever released? That is a loaded debate for another time, but it is hard to look past the wacky world created by Douglas Adams when discussing it. The many quirks of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and all the rest have well and truly made their way into pop culture normality around the world, forever changing the meaning of the number '42' and how people approach chronically depressed robots, among other things.

Stephen Fry is one of the best audiobook narrators on the planet and the beloved English comedian (and actor, broadcaster, director, writer...) is very much at his best when narrating this famous story. Fry's deadpan style is perfect for the story, leading to an audiobook that will have listeners doubling over in laughter. The Hitchhiker's Guide is a difficult story to tell poorly but an even more difficult one to narrate perfectly; needless to say, Stephen Fry hits every target from beginning to end.

Stephen Fry is one of the most popular narrators in the Audible library, lending his famous voice to over 100 audiobooks including titles by Arthur Conan Doyle, George Orwell, Roald Dahl and many others. Is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy his finest hour? Well, the audiobook clocks in 5 hours and 51 minutes, but you get the point. Either way, the answer is a resounding "yes".


One of the 20th century's most renowned works of fiction, Toni Morrison's Beloved is one of those stories that define an entire world. Inspired by real-life events, Beloved is the story of a family of formerly enslaved people whose home is haunted by the eponymous spirit, although there is much more to this famous tale than its plot suggests. Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 (among countless other awards), was adapted into a 1998 film starring Oprah Winfrey and has topped lists of iconic fiction since its release. Needless to say, this is a very important story.

Toni Morrison herself narrates the audiobook version of Beloved and once again proves that the best audiobook narrator for a story will always be the person who came up with the tale in the first place. Morrison's ability to weave magic out of words helps raise this already-beloved story to new heights, imbuing the tale of Sethe and her tragic lost child with a weight that cannot be manufactured. Put simply, this is a quite fantastic narration.

Beloved is a piece of fiction that everybody must experience in their lifetime, and Toni Morrison's excellent performance will add new fans by the legion. One of the most important pieces of 20th-century fiction to come out of America, Toni Morrison's narration of her most famous story is a listening experience listeners won't forget in a hurry.

Ready Player One

No discussion of the best audiobook narrators is complete without talking about Wil Wheaton. The California-born actor has developed into one of the most popular voice actors of a generation, helped no end by his excellent work at the helm of Ernest Cline's wildly popular piece of dystopian science fiction; Ready Player One. Cline's first novel was tailor-made for the screen and the speaker, and the audiobook couldn't have had a better narrator than Wil Wheaton.

Ready Player One is far from the easiest story to narrate, but Wheaton is more than up to the task. The story jumps from youthful exuberance to tired cynicism yet Wheaton excels in these transitions, putting together a fantastic narration in the process. It is difficult to imagine anyone else doing the stellar job that Wheaton does here.

The audiobook version of Ready Player One also gives listeners the somewhat bizarre experience of hearing Wil Wheaton (voice actor) talk about Wil Wheaton (electoral geezer). Of course, that might be venturing a little close to spoiler territory, so add this title to your library and let Wheaton tell you the full story himself.

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir

The Audible library is packed with incredible fiction led by some of the best audiobook narrators around, but there is something about hearing someone narrate their own trials and tribulations that makes for an extra-intimate listen. If that narrator happens to be doing so with a quite beautiful tempered Scottish accent, then even better.

Not My Father's Son is the story of Scottish actor Alan Cumming's attempts to come to terms with his upbringing, more specifically the violent man at the head of the family. Cumming's father was a violent man riddled with neurosis and anger, and a miserable childhood for Cumming and the rest of his family followed. Not My Father's Son is a difficult listen as a result, but an important one nonetheless.

The difficulty of the listen is all to do with the subject matter because Cumming himself proves to be a stunning audiobook narrator. Cumming has performed on many audiobooks previously including famous titles by Bram Stoker, Hans Christien Andersen and more, but his performance telling his own tale is another thing entirely. Cumming shines her, telling troubling tales with a strength and clarity that is as inspiring as it is impactful.

Notorious RBG

Ruth Bader Ginsberg was an incredible woman. In her 27 years on the US Supreme Court, the New York City-born lawyer became a name beyond her profession, earning the sobriquet “the Notorious RBG” in the process. That same nickname is the title of this tremendous audiobook, which tells the tale of a true warrior of the modern age.

Longtime Audible favourite Andi Arndt is tasked with bringing this incredible life to the listener, and what a fantastic job she does. Arndt has narrated everything from romance fiction to religious memoirs and historical texts, but it is her fantastic narration of the life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsberg that sets this excellent voice apart. It takes a strong voice to narrate the life of such a woman, and Arndt is more than up to the task.

Arndt fills the story with charisma and personality, sounding strong when strength is required and displaying the necessary fragility for the more difficult moments. Arndt's conversational style lends itself to the often-rigid structures of life on the Supreme Court, bringing excitement to a quite incredible life story.

Where the Crawdads Sing

One of the most popular and prodigious audiobook narrators of this generation, Cassandra Campbell is at her enchanting best when shepherding the listener through the ups and downs of worldwide bestseller Where the Crawdad's Sing. This famous story from the mind of Delia Owens takes the listener on a heartbreaking journey through the smalltown struggle and the beauty of nature.

Much of that is down to Cassandra Campbell's stunning performance. The multi-time Audie Award winner tackles the different voices and accents with aplomb, creating that full cast experience without having to share the audio booth with another soul. With more than 700 narrations under her belt, listeners know what they are getting with Cassandra Campbell, and what they are getting is absolute excellence.

Campbell was one of the first inductees into the Audible Hall of Fame, further recognition of her fantastic talents, not to mention her status as one of the best audiobook narrators in the world. Few voices have the power of bringing a story to life quite like the one belonging to Cassandra Campbell.

The Hate U Give

Bahni Turpin initially made her name as a stage and screen actor but it is the world of audiobook narration that has made her a star. Turpin has become an essential voice actor, a narrator capable of incredible performances that often lift good stories into great audiobooks. A regular feature on Amazon's top lists, Bahni Turpin is one of the great audiobook narrators of her time.

Her fantastic narration of The Hate U Give is right up there with the best of them. The debut novel by first-time writer Angie Thomas positively shimmers under Turpin's stewardship, as this most talented of narrators take a story filled with societal importance and imbues it with status and credibility. The Hate U Give is a powerful piece of work, and Bahni Turpin's narration is every bit as strong.

With over 300 narrations available on Audible, Bahni Turpin is as beloved and respected as narrators come. Her ability to create a world of characters using her voice alone is exactly what makes the audiobook such an immersive listening experience, with few narrators capable of conjuring up the intensity that Bahni Turpin is so capable of, so often.

The Poppy War

Did someone say "epic"? The Poppy War is a historical military fantasy inspired by China's tumultuous 20th century and no small amount of magic. R.F. Kuang does an excellent job of putting this epic tale together, but it is Emily Woo Zeller's narration that arguably pushes this into the realms of required listening. After all, what better way to immerse yourself in epic fantasy than by letting a world-class narrator carry you off into that world?

Make no mistake about it, Emily Woo Zeller is every bit the world-class narrator suggested above. Tackling a near 20-hour epic of such ambitious scope is no easy task, but the voice actor from America does it with ease. An Audie Award winner and star of over 400 titles on Audible, Zeller has a voice that practically forces the listener to keep up, creating true terror in the audiobook's darker moments and providing clarity throughout.

The first audiobook in a three-part series, The Poppy War is a complex epic filled with tumult and despair, but the narration of Zeller is such that pausing becomes increasingly difficult. Zeller once again proves herself as a generational narrator, adding to an already stacked catalogue that includes everything from romance to engineering. When Emily Woo Zeller is narrating, you know you're in safe hands.